Tracleer Update

Living On Oxygen for Life

Before the doctor would even put me on Tracleer, I had to do a lot of medical tests. I went to see doctors who specialize in Pulmonary Hypertension. To go to this appointment, my husband and I woke up at 7:30am to get there at 10am and we didn’t get home until 6pm that evening. It was a really long and tiring day.

My checklists of the tests I had to do are:

  1. Blood work including tests for HIV and Liver function
  2. Artial Blood Gas
  3. Complete Pulmonary Functions testing
  4. Chest CT scan
  5. EKG
  6. Echocardiogram
  7. Overnight Oxygen Saturation monitoring
  8. Right-side Heart Catherization

I think that about covers it all. They wanted all this done within the next two weeks of that doctor appointment. I was so nervous about the heart catherization. Though I’ve had them before but never while awake and as an adult.

For me to receive Tracleer, the doctors filled out a request form of some sort and submitted it to my insurance to see if they would pay for it. Remember it costs between $2000 to $5000 a month for this medication. Had the insurance not paid for the Tracleer, then the doctors would help to find programs who offer assistance, some based on how much of an income you have, to decide on how much help you may receive. First, I would have had to go through the assistance program from the pharmaceutical company who manufactures Tracleer. If, for financial reasons, I did not qualify, there was the next step to take: Caring Voice Coalition empowers patients who live with a life threatening chronic disease through comprehensive outreach programs and services aimed at financial, emotional and educational support.

Luckily for me, my husband’s insurance decided to pay for it. Before I had even completed all the above tests, I had my first bottle of Tracleer already. I was so surprised that everything was going so fast. I didn’t even open the package of the Tracleer because I hadn’t even finished with my tests first. The doctor said that we would talk about taking the Tracleer after the test results come in.

I have been on Tracleer since 2006. I have had to go in MONTHLY for a blood test to check on my liver at a local lab. Over the years of taking Tracleer, I haven’t had any liver problems but I feel that I’m not breathing better either. The reason why I continue to use it is because when I have my annual heart catherizations, the medicine is proving that it brings down the pressures within my heart and lungs which is a good thing. I just wish I could get the “More Energy” benefit that most others seem to get from taking Tracleer. I guess I can’t have it all, huh?  

How to use an inhaler.

Living On Oxygen for Life

Step-by-Step Instructions for Using an Inhaler

The following steps for using an inhaler is the technique for which I apply when I need to use one. I’ve had many compliments from doctors while they watch me use an inhaler. Now, I want to share with you how I use one.

  1. Remove the actual metal cylinder that contains the medicine and make sure the plastic device is clean. If it’s not, run it under hot water and then dry it thoroughly.
  2. Place the metal medicine cylinder back into the plastic device and shake vigorously for a few seconds.
  3. Place your mouth around the mouth-piece completely, making sure there it is air tight.
  4. Tilt head back slightly and breathe all air completely out and hold your breath a couple of seconds.
  5. As you push the canister down within the plastic device, slowly inhale taking in the medicine straight into your lungs. Be careful not to get your tounge in the way.
  6. Hold your breath for the next few seconds to allow enough time for the medicine to enter the blood stream.
  7. Slowly exhale at a steady rate, hold your breath for a few seconds and then exhale.
  8. If you require a two puff dose from your inhaler, wait for a minute before repeating process once more.

If you have problems using the plastic device directly, you can use what is called a SPACER which is a 6 inch plastic tube that is fitted over the mouth piece of the plasitic device. You would then place your mouth around the end and then press down on the canister, allowing the medication to flow into the spacer tube. Then you would inhale the medicine from there afterwards. This is usually beneficial for those who have weak lungs or for children.